Week 12 – The Abstract Truth

“Thus Steve Reich, explaining to Edward Strickland in 1987 why he didn’t write European-style serial music, argued that his repetitive, low-affect music was true to the popular experience of post-war consumer America:  “Stockhausen, Berio, and Boulez were portraying in very honest terms what it was like to pick up the pieces after World War 2.  But for some Americans in 1948 or 1958 or 1968 – in the real context of tailfins, Chuck Berry and millions of burgers sold – to pretend instead we’re really going to have the dark-brown Angst of Vienna is a lie, a musical lie.”  (Fink 2005:  119).

In visual art, abstract art uses form colour and line to create a composition which may exist independently of visual references in the real world.  From the renaissance up to the mid-19th century, western visual art was underpinned by the logic of perspective and an attempt to reproduce an accurate illusion of reality.  The arts outside of western culture showed alternative ways of expressing the visual experience.  By the end of the 19th Century, many artists has a desire to create new art which would reflect fundamental changes in technology, science and philosophy.  Artists drew inspiration from a variety of sources to fuel diverse theoretical arguments which, reflected social and intellectual preoccupations of the cultures of the time.


Above is a 1939–42 oil on canvas painting by Mondrian titled “Composition No. 10”. Responding to it, fellow artist Theo van Doesburg suggested a link between non-representational works of art and ideals of peace and spirituality.

The Blues and the Abstract Truth is a jazz album by Oliver Nelson (1961).  The album is an exploration of the mood and structure of the blues, though only some of the tracks are structured in the conventional 12-bar blues form.

For this week’s composition a short piece was composed in an attempt to honestly reflect the experience of living in the modern world of the internet, terrorism, global warming etc…  Something that reflects the abstract truth about my personal self and my relationship with the world.

The strategy with this week’s piece was to try and capture the feeling of the progress of the world, always progressing and changing as time constantly moves forward through the time in which we currently live.  The main idea or my own ‘abstract truth’ which I attempted to convey was that of the world constantly moving forward developing and improving slowly despite setbacks which sometimes slow the process.  Real world issues such as the birth of the internet and how that has contributed to terrorism have been addressed. The threat of terrorism always hangs over and strikes suddenly without warning.  Progress is slowed for a time by terrorist actions, but life never stops it always moves forward and recovers, but, sometimes things are a bit different afterwards.

Compositionally the piece is arranged based upon a combination of synthesized, sampled and concrete/real world sounds that are manipulated to create an evolving soundscape.  It begins with synthesized pads and textures which create a busy atmosphere that is a bit chaotic, like the chaos we live in.  The 12/8 drum rhythm helps give the piece a sense of forward motion like time.  Early in the piece the drums drop out and we hear a short burst of a dial up modem reflective of the birth of the internet.  The drums return and time moves on.  Later there is much more dial-up sounds as the internet has expanded which leads into the explosive boom sound which is representative of an act of terrorism.  Everything slows down here, by manipulation of the play rate which reflects the turmoil and the temporary halt of progress that a major act of terrorism can cause.  Time moves on and the piece speeds up and regains its sense of organisation and pattern as life recovers.  Things are not the same however, there is a sweeping EQ effect over the main pad altering its sound from what it was before the boom event.  The piece has changed but at the same time is still the same somewhat.  Time moves on into the future as the piece fades out with a pitch up.  I feel the piece is reflective of the strength of humanity to maintain the constant progress of life despite the setbacks and disasters.

Below is a link to this weeks composition:



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